Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was industry.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Canadian Alliance MP for Skeena (B.C.)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Aboriginal Affairs October 22nd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, the Kitkatla Indian band in my riding of Skeena currently owes School District 52 well over half a million dollars for educational services provided to its band members. The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs provides funding to Indian bands to meet their education agreements. Yet the minister's officials refuse to force this band to pay its debt to the school district saying that it is not a matter in which INAC will be involving itself.

Why will the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development not step in and demand accountability for taxpayer dollars in this case?

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act October 21st, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak to Bill C-14, an act providing for controls on the export, import or transit across Canada of rough diamonds and for a certification scheme for the export of rough diamonds in order to meet Canada's obligations under the Kimberley Process.

As mentioned in the title of the bill, this enactment would fulfill Canada's undertaking to participate in the Kimberley process, which is an international certification scheme that aims to break the link between armed conflict and the trade in rough diamonds. Generally speaking, the bill states that:

The enactment permits export of rough diamonds to be made only to countries participating in the Kimberley Process. It also requires exported and imported diamonds to be in prescribed, tamper-resistant containers and to be accompanied by a certificate from a participating country attesting that they have been handled in accordance with the Kimberley Process.

I would like to talk a little about what I understand the process to have been so far in leading up to the creation of this act. I understand that Canada has been keenly involved in international efforts to help stop the global trade in conflict diamonds, which have had a devastating impact on peace and human security in several African nations, including Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Unlike the legitimate trade in rough diamonds, which benefits numerous developing countries and developed economies including Canada's, conflict diamonds, or blood diamonds as they are frequently known, originate in areas controlled by rebels and are used to fund military actions that target government. The illicit trade in blood diamonds represents a very small percentage of the world's rough diamond trade.

The Kimberley process was initiated by South Africa in May 2000 to develop an international certification scheme for rough diamonds to prevent blood diamonds from entering legitimate markets. The Kimberley process brought together 48 countries, including Canada, the U.S. and members of the European Community. These participatory countries represent some 98% of the world's diamond trade market.

At the Kimberley process meetings here in Ottawa this past March, participants reached agreement on a proposal for an international certification scheme for rough diamonds. Under the scheme, participating countries will be required to export rough diamonds in tamper-resistant containers and provide a certificate validated by the government of the exporting country confirming that the diamond exports are conflict free. Participating countries will also be prohibited from importing rough diamonds from countries not engaged in the Kimberley process. Canada agreed to the implementation of this scheme by the end of 2002.

As members can see from my comments so far, I certainly can see the need for this legislation in Canada. I recognize that Bill C-14 will make legal the agreement that Canada has reached in the process, but later in my comments I will make suggestions on how the bill can be improved.

One area of concern right at the moment is a very tight timeline for the passage of the bill and, more important, for the implementation of the certification process in Canada by the end of this year. I am concerned that Canada's diamond extraction business may suffer because the government infrastructure needed to inspect and provide the certification needed for exporting our diamonds may not be ready on time. This is a concern and I suspect we will hear more about this from witnesses when the bill is sent to committee.

Canada is developing its diamond industry, and I believe everyone in the House will agree that we do not wish the bill to hamper its development in any way. The Ekati diamond mine in the Northwest Territories, located about 300 kilometres from Yellowknife, is Canada's only operating diamond mine at this time. It employs 650 people and produces three million to four million carats of gem quality rough diamonds each year. This is equivalent to nearly 4% of current world diamond production by weight and 6% by value.

The Diavik mine, located near the Ekati mine, will begin operation in 2003. Two more projects, one in the Northwest Territories and one in Nunavut, could open by 2007. These four mines would provide direct employment for about 1,600 people and could bring total annual production to approximately $1.6 billion.

Canada exports its entire production of diamonds for sorting. Some gem quality diamonds are returned to Canada in support of a small but growing cutting and polishing industry. That is why we in the House must ensure that Bill C-14 will not in any way hamper the development of Canada's growing diamond industry.

As I mentioned earlier, in general at this stage in the process before we have had the opportunity to hear from witnesses in committee, I believe the bill has merit and understand it is needed. I do have concerns that I would like to see addressed.

Time constraints are tight due to the target of this November for all 48 participating nations to commit to national implementation and December 31 for simultaneous implementation worldwide. The process led by South Africa began in the year 2000 and was included on the African agenda at Kananaskis with full Canadian government involvement from the start. If the government has known about this since 2000, I really do have to question why there is a last minute rush.

There appears to be no objection to Bill C-14 from BHP Billiton Diamonds Inc., which operates the Ekati diamond mine in the Northwest Territories. As I mentioned earlier, it employs 650 people and includes offices in Kelowna and Vancouver in British Columbia, in Yellowknife, in Antwerp, Belgium, and in London, England. Other companies expect their mines in the territories to be put into operation, one in 2003 and two more by 2007, which will mean 3,200 plus in indirect jobs. This will be a huge benefit to the Canadian economy if they are allowed to proceed without too much interference by government.

Additional diamond exploration in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador has not to date yielded any economically viable sites. Some cutting and polishing is centred at Yellowknife and in Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula. Training programs, especially for aboriginal workers, are in progress, with resulting jobs skills being among the benefits for northern residents.

All Canadian diamonds are first exported to London and Antwerp for sorting. We also import diamonds from 44 countries, including Israel, India, the U.S., Belgium and the U.K., the top five in terms of the value of our diamond imports. The multiple stages of handling, from initial mining through sorting, polishing and cutting et cetera, are a major reason for the Kimberley process agreement to ship this valuable product in tamper-proof containers with a certificate attached to prevent inclusion of blood diamonds.

I reiterate my previous concern with the bill. With such an expanding and developing diamond industry in Canada, I am concerned that there is not a balance between the obvious need for effective world legislation to stop the trade of blood diamonds and overzealous red tape and bureaucracy which may slow down the export of legitimate diamonds and thereby hurt our developing industry. These are concerns that I would like to see addressed at the committee stage of the examination of the bill.

The weakest link remains initial certification, especially when performed by officials in countries widely reputed to suffer from an epidemic of corruption, notably African countries. No independent international agency will verify or even spot check the certification, but Bill C-14 requires that Canadians ensure the certificate provides accurate information, with company officials and individual directors liable. Given the Bre-X scandal, it is difficult to justify such reliance on international honesty. I guess we have to hope it occurs but it is hard to rely on that.

Prosecutions under Bill C-14 can only be instituted within three years from the time of a complaint. Due to the significant degree of international cooperation which is likely to be involved and the fact that human lives are at risk with the trade in blood diamonds, we suggest that a time limit of up to seven years would not be unreasonable. A company's reputation will already be damaged by the laying of charges, so the best way to minimize such impacts would be to obtain convictions, not have guilty parties get away with their crimes due to delay over paperwork technicalities.

Finally, the bill provides that seized diamonds can only be held with the consent of the owner. An improvement would be to authorize holding such diamonds until the case is resolved as a guarantee that possible fines would get paid.

In conclusion, at this time I would suggest this enactment to control the import and export of rough diamonds, Bill C-14, is on the surface a good bill. I am looking forward to discussion and questions posed in committee by witnesses from the industry. I suspect they may raise concerns similar to my own, and I hope the government will take notice of them and amend the bill accordingly.

Petitions October 21st, 2002

Mr. Speaker, the third petition which I am presenting today encourages the use of adult stem cell research.

I urge the House to seriously consider these petitions.

Petitions October 21st, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table three petitions signed by residents of my riding of Skeena. Two petitions condemn the use of child pornography.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 8th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, the member made a fair bit of reference to social investments and the economy. Those are nice words but perhaps she could comment on how she might approach this? Increases in the level of CHST transfers are actually less than 1993 levels.

She addressed the child poverty issue with some numbers, something like 33,000. I understand the member for Wild Rose brought up the number of 1.5 million possibly in this category at this point in time. This was also something from the 1993 throne speech. It looks like the number of children who have been helped here are about 2%. Does the member really think that is acceptable after a nine year approach to this. Could she possibly look at the CHST transfers to help the provinces to deal with some of these problems?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 8th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from across the floor for agreeing with me that I was right, that pollution does come from the big cities. Pollution is not generated in the small northern areas to a large degree. We all have our problems. Diesel generated electricity, for instance, in some of the small northern communities creates a bit of a pollution problem, but nothing compared to what is generated in the cities.

An hour outside most major cities in my part of Canada, for example Vancouver, a person will probably be 60 miles away from the city. A person is not going to be 60 miles out of Toronto in an hour and a person would be lucky to be out of Toronto, so perhaps my analogy was not totally on, but I think it was correct.

The bottom line is the bulk of the pollution is created by the automobiles and in the big cities. To offload the cost of the Kyoto accord on the resource rich communities that create the economy in our wonderful country of Canada is not the right way to approach it.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 8th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with my colleague, the member for Wild Rose. I am pleased to have this opportunity today to rise and speak in reply to the Speech from the Throne.

The Speech from the Throne is an avenue available to the government to clearly set out its agenda and vision for our country, but with the member from Shawinigan indicating just a short while ago his intention to step aside as our Prime Minister to allow one of his competitors to take his place, the throne speech is more about creating a personal legacy for the member from Shawinigan than creating a well-rounded vision and direction for Canada.

I find this cheapening of the throne speech and its use as a personal political tool shameful and would suggest that the Prime Minister, with his many years of service in this place, should have taken the high road on his way out. Nevertheless, it is done and Canadians are left to battle the rough seas of political and economic uncertainty in a rudderless ship, with a captain on his way out.

If one is from the big cities of Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, there may be facets of the throne speech one can find pleasing, but the reality is that those most in need of the government, those producing the wealth in the country, hard-working Canadians, are those in rural, remote and northern Canada. They are all but forgotten in the member from Shawinigan's vision of Canada.

It is what is lacking and who is forgotten in the throne speech that I take issue with. I am a proud Canadian from northwestern B.C. and am offended that the government has ignored us once again. I am angered at the thought that vote-rich areas in southern Canada are more important and more deserving than those of us here in the north.

An example of the member from Shawinigan's narrow urban vision for Canada can be found in his steadfast support for the greenhouse gas emission reduction plan called the Kyoto accord. The reality is that 100 kilometres outside the limit of any major city greenhouse gas emissions are not the top issue on people's minds.

In northern Canada and my riding of Skeena, people put food on the table, pay their mortgages and hydro bills and, when they can afford it, send their kids to college on salaries paid by companies that do business extracting raw materials from the land. Be it forestry, mining, fishing, farming, oil and gas, most companies in northern B.C., northern Ontario, northern Quebec, and even rural Atlantic Canada, produce wealth from our natural resources.

In the north we are mining the metals that go toward making computer chips that run the manufacturing companies. We cut down the trees that make computer desks. The hydroelectricity we generate keeps the lights turned on and those computers running. And without the fishery and our agricultural industry, we would be having a pretty light lunch here today.

I would have to agree that the smog and pollution seen in Canada's big cities is a problem, and more mass transit and better car emission regulations are part of the solution. But to penalize northern and remote communities because of a problem they contribute to in a much lesser degree is not only irresponsible. Frankly, it is another reminder that unless people live in vote-rich southern Canada they just do not count with this Liberal government.

Let us take a look at the problems faced by the softwood lumber industry today as another example that shows the government has no plan and has really given no thought to the difficulties faced by rural, remote and northern Canadians. Here we have an industry that has been struggling to stay in business since the United States, our biggest trading partner, began imposing large tariffs and duties on those importing our products. These tariffs and duties are arbitrary. Even the WTO has agreed that Canada is not dumping lumber into the U.S. market. The U.S. action against Canadian lumber is predatory in nature.

What has the Liberal government done about the softwood lumber crisis? Absolutely nothing. It is not mentioned in the throne speech. There has been nothing that has made one iota of difference in the grand scheme of things. The Minister for International Trade has said he is working through the WTO and other organizations to see a resolution to the impasse. He has said he wants to take a wait-and-see approach and is certain that Canada will win in the end.

That wait-and-see approach so often used by the government has seen numerous sawmills shut down, thousands of jobs lost and, frankly, many families broken up as parents leave their homes in search of work, all because the government prefers to wait. The employees, small businesses and other spinoff economies affected by the softwood lumber crisis, particularly in B.C., cannot wait. They need help now as opposed to more hollow promises of assistance from the government.

The Prime Minister and his throne speech did not address the issues and concerns foremost on the minds and in the hearts of rural, remote and northern Canadians. Why not? What I am talking about today is a lack of certainty. As I said earlier, the government has done nothing with the throne speech to address the uncertainty we are faced with today.

One of the reasons there is a downturn in the economy is the lack of corporate investment in Canada and in particular in northern Canada. In my home province of B.C. not only is investment scared away by Canada's high capital taxes, but the continual aboriginal land claims uncertainty creates an atmosphere in which many businesses find it hard to operate. Recently there were articles in the newspapers citing concern for the future exploration and development of offshore oil and gas off the B.C. coast due to continual land claims wrangling in our courts and, in particular, in the court of public opinion. Until there is certainty of land tenure, British Columbia will find it very difficult to realize its natural resource potential. Unfortunately it is the federal government that continues to drag its feet. The province pays the price.

I have outlined several issues that should either have been addressed more adequately or considered in the throne speech. One area that I know my constituents and most rural, remote and northern Canadians feel should be addressed is the hated gun control legislation, better known as Bill C-68. There is no mention of this in the throne speech. It is a piece of legislation that was sold in the vote-rich cities of southern Canada as the be-all and end-all for solving crime.

The Liberals touted Bill C-68 as the solution to all crime and called it legislation that would mean safer streets in those urban areas. Instead, it meant penalizing rural, remote and northern Canadians. It has done nothing to reduce crime in our cities and has already cost the Canadian taxpayer $1 billion.

I will now move on to a problem exacerbated once again in the throne speech, one with which I am all too familiar having been active in municipal politics for almost 25 years, six of which I spent as mayor of a small, northern remote community in B.C. Infrastructure is the problem to which I am referring, one that has been poorly understood by the government for years. Yes, the throne speech did address the need for more infrastructure funding for cities to deal with needed road repairs, sewer system upgrades and better water treatment facilities, but nothing was done to address the hugely flawed funding formula.

What many MPs may not know is that the funding formula of one-third, one-third and one-third is highly impractical and even impossible to achieve in some smaller rural municipalities. Allow me to explain. In order for much-needed infrastructure repairs to be made in many municipalities, they need to access federal and provincial funding. The one-third formula means that each pays a third of the cost. That is to say, the federal government pays a third, the province pays a third and the municipality must come up with its third.

Large capital projects like those needed to upgrade sewer or water treatment facilities are not cheap. It is not uncommon for smaller municipalities to be unable to come up with their one-third share of the cost of the project. What then? The throne speech said that infrastructure funding would be available. It is available, all right, if we can convince the feds and the province to pay their share and only if the municipality has the tax base to come up with its share. The reality is that many municipalities in northern, rural or remote areas of Canada do not have that tax base to provide their share of the money, so having more infrastructure dollars available to be used for upgrades will not help them.

Again I must say I believe these funds are not directed toward those smaller municipalities in need of federal assistance. I believe this is an example of the government talking like it has funding for everyone but all the while knowing that those funds will mostly be used by the big vote-rich cities for which they were all intended. It is shameful how rural, remote and northern communities are ignored by the government and the Prime Minister in the throne speech.

When I heard the throne speech mention the government's vision for health care, I cringed. There was no vision and there were no new ideas. All Canadians heard was that the government was waiting for the results of the Romanow commission. Again, as I said with softwood lumber, the government is fixated on a wait-and-see attitude about everything. Since 1993 when the Liberal government was first elected, it has been tinkering with health care. Commission after commission, report after report, and here we are three elections later with nothing new. Meanwhile, waiting lines are longer, Canadians have been forced to go to the U.S. for treatment, and northern and remote communities have seen their specialists leave and their MDs burned out and frustrated. The system is not working. That is obvious to everyone except the government.

To conclude, I would like to remind the House and those Canadians watching at home today that there is a better way than the tired old Liberal ideas outlined in the throne speech. I would urge them to forget the tired Liberals and try something new, exciting and enthusiastic: the party I represent, one which represents much of northern, remote and rural Canada, the Canadian Alliance.

Kyoto Protocol October 7th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, Canadians know the Kyoto accord will be detrimental to our ability to compete in global markets, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars. The government has said that it will consult prior to ratification, but it has no realistic estimate of costs nor an implementation plan.

As the consultation process clearly shows no appetite for this pig in a poke deal, will it stop its bulldozer tactics, shelve Kyoto and come up with a made in Canada deal?

Community Service October 4th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, on this the first day of Her Majesty the Queen's visit to Canada I am honoured to pay tribute to the following constituents of Skeena riding, nominated by their peers for exemplary community service and who have been selected to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee commemorative medal.

They are: Dr. Lawrence M. Greene, Teresa Mackereth, Ben Matheson, Jonna Mattiesing, James Goodacre, Gordon William Sr., Eric Janze, Peggy Underhill, Brigitta van Heek, Doug Leach, Mary Anne Dilley, Yvonne Moen, Aileen Frank, Eric Ross, Miles Bode, Audrey Bode, Elizabeth Joan Wilson, Patricia Grue, Mary Kasum and Vera Kirkwood.

My sincere congratulations to them all.

Softwood Lumber June 21st, 2002

Mr. Speaker, this really does not help those whose EI benefits are running out. The minister is doing nothing to assist these forestry workers other than to buy time for the government at the workers' expense.

It will be a long, hot summer for laid off forest workers and their families. They need to hear good news, not more of the same about WTO and NAFTA and advertising programs and programs that may or may not help them.

Why will the government not address real needs right now and announce a package which extends useful assistance to long suffering B.C. forest workers? Why not?